It has proven to be absolutely magical. When I first, shyly, asked Noni if she would like to come cook with me one Saturday night nearly two months ago I wasn’t sure exactly how it would work out or what we would do. Now, two months later, I cannot imagine a Saturday night without her, and this week we invited another friend, Lynn, to join us, and it was just an enchanting evening. I am still, as Lynn put it today, basking in the glow of our lovely night together, and I feel wistful and melancholy that it is over as I do every week, which eventually leads into the rest of the week when we start all over again, sifting through recipes, making lists of who has what and who will supply what as we make up our shopping lists, and soon it is Saturday night and we are ready to start all over again.
That first week after we cooked the first of what would be many magnificent meals together I said to Noni, “This was so much fun I could do it every week,” to which she responded with enthusiasm, “Let’s!” and we high fived and clinked our wine glasses together, a toast to seal the deal. Since then our recipes have gotten bolder, the cooking more intricate, and the friendship fathoms deeper. There is something primal about two women cooking together. I am the sous chef and Noni, a fabulous and confident cook, takes charge standing at the stove and giving me tasks to do. I do a lot of slicing, grating, chopping, and spiralizing noodles made from zucchini when the recipe calls for them. Last night for example while I grated carrots for our fresh carrot salad made with a wonderful dijon mustard/honey dressing that I whipped up with no mayo, and Lynn made breadcrumbs from croutons and then began to scoop seeds out of our just baked spaghetti squashes, Noni made an amazing gravy for our turkey burgers out of onions and the dried wild mushrooms that I had rehydrated just before Noni and Lynn arrived. She deftly made the amazing turkey burgers with egg, seasonings, and bread crumbs, while scooping out the spaghetti squashes and mixing the squash with broccoli and cheese and putting the mixture back into the scooped out squashes with cheese on top to stick under the broiler. Lynn and I continued to grate and chop carrots and onions and more and we all sipped our well chilled chardonnay and swayed to the rhythm of the bossanova music playing on Pandora. We were three very happy women having just the best time.
After dinner we usually watch a movie although a week ago we played Scrabble and can see that being a regular activity. Last night we three watched a great movie, “Rare Birds” with William Hurt, and after the movie, along with putting away food and cleaning up the kitchen, we did one of the most important things of the night, we divvied up the leftovers. We always at least double the recipes so there are leftovers to take into the week. We decided early on that if we were going to do this much work we might as well make leftovers for the week ahead. Last night we each got 2 turkey burgers with wild mushroom gravy, carrot salad, and stuffed spaghetti squash and felt that lovely sense of completion at the end of the evening. Cooking, eating, talking, dancing, hugging, laughing, watching a movie, cleaning up, and sharing the leftovers. It just doesn’t get any better than this.
And this is just what I have needed to round out my life. I spend most of my time alone with the pugs who also play an important part on our Saturday nights. I get them fed just before Noni and any other guest arrives, and out to the potty, and then they mill about and finally lie down around us peacefully while we have our evening together. They snuggle with us while we watch a movie and provide just the fuzzy love bug appeal a good night needs. Spending so much time alone with them however gets lonely and I was feeling an aching sense of loneliness in my life before that first week when I got up the nerve to invite Noni, and since we have developed our regular Saturday nights my life has really become much happier, I feel a greater sense of fulfillment. There is nothing like close women friendships and when there is an activity involved that fosters close companionship like cooking it deepens the friendship immeasurably. My life has completely changed since we have begun our weekly get togethers and Noni has expressed feeling the same. Lynn had such a good time she is looking forward to coming back in a couple of weeks to join us again and will be here regularly with us, and we are inviting another friend for next week. What joy there is in women cooking together!
At 62 I am facing the last chapters of my life, the decades left to me, and I am building the foundation needed for a rich and fulfilling life peopled with women and enriched with friendship and food and more to come. I can see gardening being part of it, and good books, and more that I can’t yet imagine but these are the components of a happy life, one that I am consciously building. I am beginning the process of applying for a reverse mortgage for my home and Lynn just wrote that we would have a wonderful celebration when it all goes through. Yes! Imagine having friends to share these things with and celebrate with. I have gotten so used to doing everything nearly completely alone that it is hard to fathom the richness of a gathering of women to celebrate with, but our Women Cooking Together Saturday nights provides just such an enriching place for us all to celebrate, comfort, and support each other through whatever life brings.
And now it is time for me to feed the pugs their dinner and make my own which will be heating up a turkey burger with that incredible wild mushroom gravy and a half spaghetti squash stuffed with broccoli and cheese. Nothing better than last night’s feast to warm my heart and bring pleasure again tonight. Women cooking together brings with it so many rewards and I am about to revel in our sweet evening all over again, eating the meal lovingly prepared by Noni and Lynn and I. It just doesn’t get any better than this.